The largest trees and notable trees located within the limits of the Town of Cary are listed on the Beautiful Trees of Cary Register. The purposes of the Register are to encourage the appreciation of the Town's trees, to provide information that assists residents in locating and nominating trees that may qualify as state or national champions, and to foster friendly competition to identify and register Cary's own champion and notable trees.
There are two active organizations that maintain records of large trees on land that includes the area within Cary city limits. The National Register of Big Trees tracks the largest recorded living specimens found in the continental United States. This list is maintained by American Forests, a nonprofit conservation organization. The North Carolina Champion Big Tree Program is administered by the North Carolina Forest Service. At one time (approximately 1992 to 2011) the Capital Trees Program recorded and listed the champion trees in Wake County. Due to discontinued funding, the Capital Trees Program is now inactive.
The National Register of Big Trees lists 31 trees in North Carolina as champions. None of these 31 trees are in Wake County. The North Carolina Big Tree Program lists seven champion trees in Wake County. None of these seven trees are in the Town of Cary.
The Beautiful Trees of Cary Register will list any tree that is measured and photographed [provided that, if the tree is on private property to which the public is not generally invited, the owner of the property gives written permission for the tree to be listed]. The North Carolina register, following the federal register, lists only "native" trees, defined as species growing in North America at the time the first white man set foot on it. This is wrong for social, scientific, and just plain practical reasons. In order to have a complete register, we'll list any tree, so that genera such as gingkos, lindens, redwoods, sweetgums, and zelkovas are included, as well as all species of beech, cedar, maple, and oak.
Anyone may nominate a tree for the Beautiful Trees of Cary Register, whether a citizen of the Town of Cary or not. Every tree nominated will be listed on the Register: on the Champions page if its point total is the higher, or highest, for its species, and on the Notables page if not. No tree will ever be deleted from the Register unless the current owner of private property on which the tree grows requires that it be removed or the tree dies.
We thank Don Bertolette, founder and president of the Western Native Tree Society, coordinator of the Alaska State Register of Big Trees, and co-author of The American Forests Champion Trees Measuring Guidelines Handbook, for his kind advice and counsel in getting this project started. Mr. Bertolette has generously allowed us to publish a PDF copy of his Measuring Guidelines Handbook on this site, and it may be accessed here.
A word about the Handbook and tree-measuring in general: Do not be intimidated by its apparent complexity! It is written not only as instruction for the most advanced and meticulous tree-measurers in the world, it also contains simple and easy-to-follow instructions for first-time measurers of trees. It is not the primary intent of the Beautiful Trees of Cary Register to list trees with their exact measurements rigorously taken, but to provide an enjoyable and rewarding forum for the appreciation and exposition of the Town of Cary's beautiful trees. If a tree in Cary is located, and its first measurements and score indicate that it could be a state or national champion tree, a slew of interested and credentialed people will visit the tree to determine if it is in fact a champion. And as for this Register, measurements submitted on a nomination form are presumed to be correct, and will only be changed when solid proof shows that they are wrong.
Please download and use this form to register trees.